Thursday, 7 January 2016

The Swiss and Italian Lakes, a coach tour for just £45 in 1965

Dad to the right in 1955
My dad spent his whole working life in the holiday trade taking people of modest means on sightseeing tours of Britain and mainland Europe.

In the age before cheap air travel this was the holiday for those who didn’t want sun and sand or a week at a Butlin’s.

These were all inclusive trips which offered “Your own reserved seat in a special Glenton touring coach, a tour of your choice, hotel accommodation including dinner and breakfast, gratuities to hotel staff, services of an experienced chauffeur-courier and a specially written guide book.”*

The tours lasted for anything between 7 and 15 days. For £45 Tour C7 in 1965 offered nine days to the Swiss and Italian Lakes, leaving London on the Saturday, staying in Brussels on the Sunday night and travelling on to Lake Lucerne on the Monday, then later in the week to Lake Maggiore and then in to Switzerland and back via Burgundy to London.

To the Italian Lakes, 1965
Of course it is easy today to sneer at an experience where everything was provided and if you failed to look out of the window you might miss a country, but in an age before the internet with television still in its infancy this was a relatively cheap way to see places which would otherwise just be a picture in a book. And this was value for money given that the national average wage in 1965 was £26.

There are still plenty of travel companies offering this sort of holiday but back in the late 1940’s and ‘50s this was an experience just opening up for thousands who were beginning to enjoy the first taste of consumer prosperity.

 They are as much an indication of that new Britain as the washing machine, television and motor car.

*Glenton Tours Brochure 1955

Pictures; Glenton coach cruises Britain and the Continent brochures from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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